Glory be! We got our first CSA (Community supported agriculture) box today. I tell you, it was like a breath of sunshine all wrapped up in those nutrient filled green leaves. It is a promise that this long and dismal spring is actually going to end…someday. As I carefully unwrapped the tender veggies that had been so carefully grown, harvested and packaged by my friends in our very own valley, I revealed in the miracle of it all.
Community Supported Agricultural is a subscription service that a farm will present a glorious array of their best veggies, once a week, to subscribers, during the gardening season. In return, the farmers get a lump of money up front to help with spring start up costs like seeds and fertilizers. In the last twenty-five years CSAs have been spreading their roots deep and wide in the United States.
This concept was actually started by those witty Europeans. The concept is easy. We the consumers, who vote with our dollar, subscribe to a CSA so that we can support a small local farm. Now that farm grows their produce and meats in a manner that makes everyone happy, the veggies, the fruit, the bugs, the animals, the people and the earth; all happy. In return, we get not only beautiful organic food but a clean and vibrant environment to live in.
20 years ago, small family owned farms were on the critically endangered species list. Large corporate farms picked one food to grow, such as potatoes, and did it in HUGMOUGOUS amounts, with lots of pesticides and cheap petroleum fertilizers. This monoculture farming practice produces cheap food by at a great price.
We almost lost our small farms, our environment and an enormous amount of different types of vegetables, fruits, and meat animals. The CSA/ Farmers Market trend is a grass roots, supported by you and me, movement to bring back small farms. Now doesn’t that feel good? We are part of a revolution! And you get a box of organic miracle foods from your area. How good does it get?!
I personally love being part of that revolution. When my CSA arrives, I am rubbing my hands together, wondering what is in that brown paper wrapped present. Then, I am thrilled with the challenge to use all of the gifts in the present before the next one arrives.
One of the biggest challenges for me has been the beet greens. Now, why would that be a problem? I guess I was so dazzled by those sparkling beets in their bright red and gold hues, that the beet greens just wilted, sadly ignored, in the fridge.
I have vowed to use every one of my beet greens this year. Now beet greens are right up there on the charts in nutritional content and deliciousness. They are sweet, unlike some deep leafy greens, so you can use them in everything. Scrambled eggs, soups, salads, stir fries, quiche, you name it, beet greens can go there. Beet greens excel as much in nutrition as they do in taste.
A good web site to find a CSA in your area is Local Harvest at http://www.localharvest.org/. It has not only CSAs to be found and supported but farmer’s markets. Do your part to save our farms and your soul. I mean your health.
Spring Garden Medley
This dish is open for interpretation. You can add whatever you find in your CSA or garden.
4 fat link sausage of your choice
1 bunch of baby carrots
1 bunch of baby beets and their greens
1 bunch of kale
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 spring onion, sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 -2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
¼ cup of feta cheese (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of fresh garden herbs of your choice,
I like tarragon in this dish.
Hand full of chopped nuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the carrot and beet tops off and scrub them till nice and shiny. Cut the sausages lengthwise in half then slice into smaller pieces. Save your beet greens and put them in a jar of water like a beautiful bouquet, while they wait. (This will get them all perky.) Put your roots in a small baking dish and toss them in one tablespoon of olive oil and bake till you can poke a knife through them, about 45 minutes or so. When they cool, cut them into halves.
Wash the greens and chop them up into bite size pieces. Now, heat the remaining olive oil to medium high in a skillet that has a lid. Throw in the garlic and onion and sauté for a minute or two till they become translucent and aromatic. Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes. Toss in the greens and herbs and sauté with the sausage mix for a few minutes. Add a tablespoon of vinegar and put the lid on and simmer, stirring here and there for about 8 to 10 minutes, adding a bit more vinegar when needed. When the greens are done, add a bit of salt and pepper, place them in a pretty bowl and artfully put the carrots and beets in the dish. Sprinkle the snow white feta cheese and nuts on the top and serve with pride. This dish is saving America’s farms.
Eggs in Beet Green nests
This next dish has become my hubby’s and I favorite breakfast lately. It is such a great way to start you day, with a big helping of veggies. You can throw any ole’ green in there as well. A few chopped up sweet potatoes are also really good in here.
1 bunch of beet greens, chopped
1 bunch kale, chopped
½ onion, chopped
2 -3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 to 3 pieces of bacon, cut up
2 to 4 farm fresh eggs
Heat up a biggish skillet on medium heat and add the oil. Cook the bacon and onion and garlic and for about 5 minutes or so, till the bacon is done then add the greens. Sauté for a few minutes then put a couple tablespoons of water in the pan and put a lid on it. Lightly oil another skillet and fry your eggs to your liking, stirring the greens all the while. Divide the greens between two plates and make a nest in the greens. Nestle the eggs in their nests and eat up! So yummy.